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AT&T, Constellation Wines, Gap to Each Host 1- to 1.2-MW Solar Power Systems

Gap Inc. has unveiled a 1-megawatt solar power system, and Constellation Wines U.S. and AT&T are each working with strategic partnerships of their own to host comparably large systems that will harness the power of the sun.

In Fresno, Gap Inc., MMA Renewable Ventures, which is a subsidiary of Municipal Mortgage & Equity LLC, and SunPower Corporation teamed up to create a 1-megawatt solar power system at the campus for Gap's West Coast distribution center. The firms dedicated the system yesterday.

The ground-mounted solar tracking system occupies a 5-acre site. It expected to offset 2.5 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, which the companies said is the equivalent of taking 2,466 vehicles off the road across the life of the project.

MMA Renewable Ventures owns and operates the system and worked with Gap to finance the solar power system in partnership that included leveraging tax credits and incentives. Under the arrangement, Gap will buy power generated from the system through a long-term contract called a power purchase agreement. MMA Renewable Ventures owns the renewable energy credits and environmental attributes associated with the system.

Designed and installed by SunPower, the installation features the SunPower Tracker system, which follows the sun's movement during the day and enables the capture of as much as 25 percent more sunlight than conventional fixed-tilt systems.

The installation at Constellation's Gonzales Winery in Monterey County, Calif., will cover about 170,000 square feet on the roof of the main winery warehouse and is expected to provide about 60 percent of the winery's total energy requirements.

According to Mitsubishi Electric & Electronics USA's Photovoltaic Division, the setup is to include 6,358 Mitsubishi Electric 185W solar panels, can generate 1,176,230 watts of DC power and deliver 1,000,040 watts of AC power to the grid. The estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equal to taking 2,000 cars off the road each year, and the system's reduced carbon footprint would be equal to planting 2,500 acres of trees, the company said.

The estimated annual offsets, or pollution avoided, as a result of the solar installation include 1.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 1,636 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 2,909 pounds of nitrogen oxides, according to Mitsubishi.

Pacific Power Management is financing and building the project, which is scheduled to be completed by year's end. Kelly McMahon, director of sales for Pacific Power Management, said that during the summer months when the winery is not processing grapes, the system can export enough electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric Company lines for about 25 percent of the roughly 1,695 households in Gonzales.

In San Ramon, AT&T Inc. is working with SunPower, CH2M HILL, PG&E and Morgan Stanley to install and operate a 1-megawatt solar power system on AT&T's facility at the Bishop Ranch office park. The system is being partially funded by a $2.1 million incentive from PG&E under the California Solar Initiative.

The power produced by the system, which is expected to equal up to 25 percent of peak power and 5.5 percent of the facility's annual electricity consumption, is equivalent to the electricity required to power more than 165 homes each year, AT&T said.

The system is expected to generate more than 1.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. It is also expected to replace the building's normal power consumption by more than 4,300 kWh per day. The project, scheduled to be completed later this year, is being constructed by SunPower and will include nearly 3,700 solar panels.

AT&T will purchase electricity for the facility from an entity in which financier Morgan Stanley owns a major interest under SunPower Access, a power purchase agreement program. That entity is to own the system as well as the associated renewable energy credits, which it may retire or sell.

Mitsubishi, Constellation Wines and Pacific Power Management announced their project yesterday. AT&T and its team members in the San Ramon project announced their plans on October 1.

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